For drivers and passengers who have been involved in a car accident in New York, it helps to understand the laws and insurance requirements that could affect any injury or property damage claim you decide to make.
This page provides a guide to all of the New York-specific resources on All-About-Car-Accidents.com, including New York’s no-fault car insurance system and when you may be able to step outside of no-fault and file a liability claim after a car accident. We’ll also cover when and how to get help from a New York car accident lawyer.
If you are injured in a car accident in New York, the first thing you need to understand is that the state follows “no-fault” car insurance rules. That means you turn first (and sometimes exclusively) to your own car insurance coverage to get compensation for injuries and lost income, up to a certain dollar limit.
New York drivers can only step outside of the state's no-fault system -- and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly -- if their injuries qualify as “serious” under the state’s threshold. For more information on what qualifies as “serious injury,” plus more details on how no-fault claims work, check out our New York Car Insurance Laws article.
As for the types and limits of coverage that New York drivers are required to carry, they are:
Finally, it’s important to note that the no-fault rules do not apply to a vehicle damage claim. You are free to pursue a property damage claim under the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, or even file a lawsuit if you need to.
After a car accident, if your claim is serious enough to let you file a liability claim against the at-fault driver in New York, there are a few state laws that could affect your case, starting with the deadline for filing a personal injury case in court (this kind of law is called a “statute of limitations,” and every state has one).
In New York, you have three years from the date of the car accident to get your case started by filing the initial complaint in New York’s civil court system. You can find this law codified at N.Y. Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214. The same three-year deadline applies to lawsuit filed over vehicle damage.
Learn more in our article Car Accident Laws in New York.
You may not need to hire a New York car accident lawyer if you were involved in a minor car accident and are making a claim through your own insurer in line with New York’s no-fault rules.
But if you suffered “serious injury” under New York’s threshold for taking a car accident claim outside of no-fault -- or if you’re trying to prove that your claim should be exempt from no-fault under that threshold -- you might find that there is a lot more at stake, so discussing your situation with an experienced New York car accident lawyer is probably a good idea.
A good car accident attorney knows how to anticipate and avoid obstacles in the car accident claim process, and will protect your rights at every step, including filing a car accident lawsuit in New York’s court system if that is the right move.